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How to answer "where do you want to be in 5 years?"

"Where do you want to be in 5 years?" is always a tough interview question, even if you do have an answer for it!

Like so many questions in the interview, it's about striking a balance between being candid and not portraying yourself in a professional light.

Here's how to perfect your answer to this tricky question...

1. Be honest

This isn't really a trick question - the interviewer will genuinely want to know where you want to be in 5 or maybe even 10 years down the line. 

Don't worry much about specific details (the salary or the organisation), you can just stick to the experiences and the skills you'll want under your belt by then if need be. 

2. But not too honest!

It's all well and good if you have your career mapped out year-by-year, but often it's not exactly what a hiring manager wants to hear.

The organisation isn't expecting you to have dreamt of working for them ever since you were a kid. But at the same time, they're not going to appreciate being made to feel as if they're just a stepping-stone. 

3. Keep it general

There's no need to pack your answer with loads of precise detail and expectation. 

The key here is to express your understanding of how likely the workplace is likely to change in the future.

Assuming your plans will be able to work out right on schedule without being future-proofed in some way may come across as naive and inflexible. 

4. Stress your long-term interest in the company

We all know the real story. There are no guarantees about the workplace - things can change overnight. 

That said, try to give the interviewer the impression you're not going to turning your head for new roles in 6 months.

5. Be enthusiastic about it!

And finally, try not to sound uncertain, overly speculative or trepidatious. 

Remember, the future should be exciting to you. It should mean new opportunities and exciting new ideas in the workplace. The future doesn't have to feel scary!

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